What's remarkable about this "banned list" - much cited by those claiming a free speech crisis - is how most of the events on the list either (a) do not involve a ban and/or (b) do not involve activities/decisions of unis or other academics:

This is why the detail matters - this list is cited in the Policy Exchange report now used by the govt as a "list of no-platforming and other academic controversies", with the claim it shows a rising trend of such instances. So it matters if many are nothing of the sort.
And many aren't:
Clark, Feb 2021 - not banned, and critics not academics or institutional
Phelps, Feb 2021 - not banned, cancelled due to a controversy not relating to fellow academics or the institution
Todd, Feb 2021 - not banned, and critics not academics or institutional
Loach, Feb 2021 - not banned, and critics not academics or institutional
Jan 2021 Essex debating society - event cancelled, but not clear why, not academics or institution responsible
Fox and Williams Jan 2021 - not banned, and criticism not from academics or the institution
Gasper, Jan 2021 - details of a contribution have vanished. Unclear why. Site editorialises claiming it is due to a twitter campaign (which is not academics or institutional)
Beck, Jan 2021 - expelled from a trade union, therefore not an academic or institutional matter
Stock, Jan 2021 - not banned, but other academics called for revocation of an OBE. So that does seem to fit the bill.
Sikorka, Jan 2021 - not banned, but "faced pressure from the press and social media". Not an academic or institutional matter then
Heneghan and Jefferson, Nov 2020 - faced criticism on Facebook(!). Goes without saying that British universities/academics don't set facebook's policies
Knowland, Nov 2020 "a schoolteacher, not an academic". Well, that's that one cleared up then.
Price, Oct 2020 - also not an academic (a porter), and also criticised by people who are not academics (student society). No evidence he lost his job
Levitt (Oct 2020) - invitation withdrawn following criticism of his COVID views from other conference participants. There is at least a case to consider with this one - academic, and academic event.
Williamson (Oct 2020) - former Lab MP Chris Williamson is not an academic. Event was not academic. Critics were not academics. Student society again.
Dawkins (Sept 2020) - an academic, and an academic event, but not in the UK (Trinity College, Dublin)
So of those first 15 incidents, covering the past 5 months, only 3 seem to fit even a broad definition of facing efforts to shut down or otherwise express strong hostility from other academics (one of which is in Ireland, not UK).
Most are instead student organisations criticising events, criticism which sometimes (though not always) call for speakers to be "no platformed". The events themselves are also mostly put on by student organisations.
Free speech within student societies etc is itself of course an issue worthy of attention. But it is misrepresentation to present this as academics being "banned from speaking at universities". Virtually none of these incidents meet that definition, even loosely.
There is also a fair amount of evidence that the organisation drawing up this list isn't exactly presenting things neutrally. There's plenty of language looking to gin-up the seriousness of minor incidents or editorialise on the alleged broader impliations.
For example, a bit later decisions (or even just proposals) to rename buildings is presented as "banning the dead".
Then there are cases where an academic said something controversial, some people got upset, and the uni defended them fully. Why are these included on a "banned list" is not explained. "Some people criticised what x said in public" is clearly not the same as "x was banned".
Why am I focusing on this rather obviously unsystematic, impressionistic and inconsistently list of events which mostly do not meet the claimed defintion. Well, because it is cited regularly, as is the organisation maintaining it, as evidence of a "free speech crisis" on campus
If major changes to university free speech policies are going to be made on the basis of reports citing evidence like this, that evidence should be scrutinised. And if it doesn't stand up to scrutiny, that's a problem. Clearly, it does not.
People being mean about an academic on twitter, the university defending them and then...nothing happening is not a "banning incident".
"The talk went ahead"
"Not banned, but"
A twitter group campaigned..."

These are not incidents of academic free speech being infringed!
As some people in my replies seem determined to miss the point here by so far that the point isn't even visible any more let me be clear: criticism of this *specific* list is *not* a claim that no problem of any kind exists and certainly not an endorsement of intolerant behaviour
It is instead simply the following claims:
1. This list presents itself as a catalog of academic "banning"/no platforming
2. It is being treated by prominent figures in the debate as robust evidence
3. It is not robust evidence.

That is all.

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More from @robfordmancs

22 Feb
I wonder if the German health authorities will now reassess their decision to not give AZ vaccine to under 65s, thus sending a signal to their citizens that the AZ vaccine was less effective. A signal which has depressed take up. This was presented as "prudent" at the time.
Illustrates how default bureaucratic patterns of risk assessment can go horribly wrong in a high uncertainty pandemic environment. Yes, it probably is "prudent" to wait for more data in normal circs.
But if, with a pandemic raging, you signal to citizens that something is less effective and safe, and they respond (understandably) with greater vaccine hesitatancy/refusal, then you put lots of extra people at risk, for longer. That is the *less* prudent choice.
Read 8 tweets
21 Feb
“Unless you criticise everyone your motives for criticising anyone are suspect” is really not a v strong argument on its merits. Even less so from a self-appointed “academic free speech champion” seeking to marginalise critics seeking to hold someone to act for making things up
I anticipated yesterday that Kaufmann and Goodwin would behave like this - it is unfortunately a long established pattern of behaviour with both of them.
I previously responded to the libel of which I am again one of the evident targets a few days ago. Readers should be aware that when others behaves to Goodwin as he behaves to them, the result is angry emails invoking legal threats. “Do as I say not as I do”
Read 7 tweets
18 Feb
Two things can be true at once:
1. There is an issue with hostility some academics have faced on some issues
2. Another academic who himself uses threats of legal action to bully colleagues into silence is not a good faith champion of the free speech cause
I have kept quiet about Matthew's recent outpourings on here but as my estwhile co-author has now seen fit to portray me as an enabler of oppression I think I have a right to reply. So I will.
I consider Matthew to be a colleague and a friend, and we had a longstanding agreement not to engage in disputes on twitter. I disagree with much in the article @UOzkirimli wrote on his research in @openDemocracy but I strongly support his right to express such critical views
Read 15 tweets
18 Feb
One of the authors of the Policy Exchange report on academic free speech thinks it is "ridiculous" to expect him to accurately portray an incident at Cardiff University in his study, both in the reporting and in a question put to a student sample.
Here is the incident Kaufmann incorporated into his study, as told by a Cardiff professor who was there. As you can see, the incident involved the university intervening to *uphold* free speech principles:
Here is the first mention of the Greer at Cardiff incident in Kaufmann's report. It refers to the "concrete case" of the "no-platforming of Germaine Greer". Any reasonable reader would assume that refers to an incident of no-platforming instead of its opposite.
Read 18 tweets
16 Feb
So much of this is just name recognition. Top 3 are "guy who was universally argued over President until one month ago, whose impeachment trial literally just finished" "guy who was vice President until one month ago" and "guy whose name is 99% same as former President".
All the others are people most respondents will have little/no opinion on, if they've even heard of them at all. And even the opinions they *have* will primarily be seen through the lens of their views about the recently departed President.
tl;dr WTF is the point of polls like this, and even more so WTF is the point of articles claiming polls like this tell us something
Read 4 tweets
15 Feb
It is a truth universally acknowledged that once people are home owners preventing other people moving in or building houses near them shoots to the top of their hierarchy of political priorities
Be interested to know how many political abs economic outcomes can be explained by the degree to which political institutions are captured by the Universal NIMBY impulse
Read 4 tweets

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